About Suffix Prefix Dictionary
This dictionary is the most comprehensive online dictionary of biological and medical prefixes and suffixes. It defines more biomedical prefixes and suffixes than any other online source, and provides examples of each (most examples are linked to their definitions in the biology dictionary on this site). The list is alphabetical, which lets you look terms up even if you're not sure about their exact spellings. The two indexes below, one for the prefix dictionary, and the other for the suffix dictionary, allow you to find prefix and suffix meanings by clicking on the first letter of the particular prefix or suffix you're looking for. You can also use the automated search engine, which searches the entire prefix and suffix dictionary.
What is an Affix?
Suffix Prefix Dictionary is a dictionary of affixes (prefixes and suffixes) used by
biologists and physicians in constructing scientific names and terminology. In general,
they are either of Latin or Greek derivation. An affix is a letter or series of
letters attached to the beginning or end of a word, word base, or phrase to produce a
derivative word with a new meaning. For example, in the word termitary, the
suffix -ary, meaning connected with or belonging to, is attached to the end of
the word termite (after dropping the e). So a termitary, a mound where
termites live, is a place belonging to termites.
In general, the prefixes and suffixes used in constructing scientific terminology and med terms are either of Latin or Greek derivation. In constructing these terms, nearly always, a Latin prefix goes with a Latin suffix, and a Greek prefix goes with a Greek suffix. Word parts derived from proper names constitute an important exception.
Proper Names as Prefixes
In scientific names it is also common to use geographic and personal names to form prefixes and suffixes. Examples of geographic prefixes are altaicus (= residing in the Altai Mountains of Central Asia), europaeus (= European), anatoliensis (= occurring in Anatolia). An example of a personal name used as a prefix is rogersii (= of Rogers). Suffixes can also be derived from proper names (e.g., "-watt" in megawatt, or "-dalton" in kilodalton), but this is more unusual. Suffix Prefix Dictionary does not, of course, include the innumerable proper names used as prefixes in the construction of scientific names, but users should consider this possibility when they fail to find a particular prefix here in the dictionary.
Two Spelling Rules:
When a suffix beginning with a consonant is added to a root or prefix ending with a
consonant, a vowel, usually -o-, is added as a connector.
Biological terminology and med terms of Greek or Latin origin ending in -a regularly
drop the -a before a suffix beginning with a vowel:
pleura + -al = pleural
urea + -ic = ureic
lamina + -ectomy = laminectomy
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